School for Social Work
Gay men-Identity, Gay men-Religious life, Gay men-Psychology, Christian gay men-Religious life, Christian gay men-Psychology, Identification (Religion), Gay, Christian, Identity development, Cognitive dissonance, Religious identity, Sexual identity, Gender identity
Eleven self-identified gay Christian men were interviewed regarding the process by which they integrated their gay and Christian identities. The data revealed that they experienced a three-phase process The first phase, Initial Dissonance, occurred as their emerging gay identities came into conflict with the conservative Christian churches to which they belonged. Participants experienced both implicit and explicit rejection. Some isolated themselves in order to avoid rejection. The second phase consisted of an Initial Response to the dissonance. Responses included compartmentalized homosexual experimentation, attempts to reject the gay identity through suppression of sexual desires, reparative therapy, and participation in Ex-Gay ministries. When participants found that these responses did not sufficiently relieve the dissonance they experienced, they moved on to the third phase, Integration Negotiation. In this phase, they attempted to find a way to uphold both gay and Christian identities. Common aspects of Integration Negotiation were the ability to separate their Christian faith from belonging to particular churches, engagement in personal study, attitudinal changes, and development of a capacity to arrive at a gay-affirming theological stance. The narrative data affirmed the literature that suggests that sexual and religious identities are "core identities" (Thumma, 1991), and participants described working out the relative weight they gave to their gay and Christian identities. Participants also reported a sense of mission to the gay community, the Christian community, or both. They described integration as an ongoing process.
Reardon, John Paul, "I will not let you go until you bless me : an exploratory study of Gay Christian men's integration of religious and sexual identities" (2011). Masters Thesis, Smith College, Northampton, MA.